Wednesday, August 27, 2014

S.A. Bodeen's SHIPWRECK ISLAND reviewed in Kirkus and Booklist

Further to the great review of S.A. Bodeen's SHIPWRECK ISLAND (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan) that was in School Library Journal, here is part of the review from Kirkus:

The first in a series, a contemporary castaway tale featuring a blended family.

Twelve-year-old Sarah Robinson (yes, shades of Swiss Family Robinson) is upset: Her father has remarried (he met his new wife, Yvonna Murillo, through online dating). Now Sarah’s stuck with stepbrothers Marco (Sarah’s age) and his little brother, Nacho. Marco’s equally unhappy about moving from Texas to Southern California. When the newlyweds decide to skip their honeymoon in lieu of an all-family cruise, the kids soon face bigger problems than merging food preferences and family traditions. Alternating chapters punctuated with plentiful dialogue move briskly, offering readers Sarah’s and Marco’s reactions to an increasingly surreal adventure. It begins when they board the sketchy Moonflight, manned by an understaffed Capt. Norm (his first mate is a Newfoundland called Ahab), and escalates with a sudden storm that maroons them off a lush tropical island. Sarah and Marco glimpse strange creatures, suggesting trouble lurks in paradise (they must climb trees to avoid giant coconut-eating crabs). Sarah and Marco’s shared sense of danger ultimately transforms them from inconvenienced, contrary preteens to wary….More tantalizing appetizer than full entrée, this book will leave readers hungry for a second helping. (Adventure. 10-13)

Adds Booklist: "Narrative tension runs high as the kids try to adjust to their new life and the stress of their disastrous vacation . . . this adventure just gets going when the book comes to an end, leaving the story wide open for a sequel."


We can't wait to read the second book!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The first two titles in Dori Hillestad Butler's new chapter book series, THE HAUNTED LIBRARY, just out this month, reviewed by Kirkus




Dori Hillestad Butler's THE HAUNTED LIBRARY (Grosset & Dunlap) is a new chapter book series about a ghost boy and a solid girl who solve ghostly mysteries together. The first two books, THE HAUNTED LIBRARY and THE GHOST IN THE ATTIC are already out.

"Simple text, brief chapters and a high-interest topic all combine to make this, the first of a series, an easy sell to readers newly transitioned to chapter books," said the Kirkus review.

Future titles include THE GHOST BACKSTAGE and THE FIVE O'CLOCK GHOST with more planned for the summer and fall of 2015.


An official blog tour will be held September 7-13, 2014! Stay tuned for more information.



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Margery Cuyler's The Little School Bus and The Little Dump Truck get some nice attention from reviewers


We were pleased to hear that Margery Cuyler's THE LITTLE SCHOOL BUS (Holt/Macmillan) and THE LITTLE DUMP TRUCK (Holt/Macmillan) received some nice reviews in publications like Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist and more. Here's a sample:


Praise for The Little School Bus:
"Cute . . . Will help to complete vehicler lovers' collections."  Kirkus Reviews


Praise for The Little Dump Truck:

“Preschoolers will love this book.” — School Library Journal

“The sharp-edged bright blue chassis, lemon-yellow dumper and smiling grill of this hard-working construction vehicle with his cohort of fuel trucks, vans, buses, pickups on heavy stock paper would have made this title a winner in my book. Wait—that’s not all! The text can be sung to the nursery favorite, ‘I’m a little teapot!’ Try it!” —Nick Jr.com

“The titular little dump truck cheerily gives the youngest listeners the lowdown on its duties.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A fast storytime favorite.” — Booklist

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tim Myers’ just published RUDE DUDE'S BOOK OF FOOD meets almost more Common Core Standards than we can count!

Mongols actually did put raw meat under their saddles to "tenderize" it! And fortune cookies--gasp--don't come from China! Tim Myers' RUDE DUDE'S BOOK OF FOOD is just out, a humorous, anecdote-filled history of popular foods (hamburgers, chocolate, etc.). Intended for upper-elementary/middle-school students, it also meets the following Common Core State Standards:


Social studies/history:

General
Students who are college and career ready in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language:
--build strong content knowledge
--establish a base of knowledge across a wide range of subject matter by engaging with works of quality and substance...to gain both general knowledge and discipline-specific expertise
--know that different disciplines call for different types of evidence (e.g., documentary evidence in history)
--come to understand other perspectives and cultures...through reading
--evaluate other points of view critically and constructively. Through reading...students can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own

K-5 standards:
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events...ideas develop and interact over the course of a text
10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts...proficiently

Grade 3:
4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language...including figurative language such as metaphors and similes
5. Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story

K-5 Informational text standards:
3.Describe the connection between a series of historical events...or concepts...in a text
8. Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text

Grade 3:
3.Describe the relationship between a series of historical events...using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect
4. Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area
5.Use text features and search tools (e.g., sidebars) to locate information
8.Describe the logical connection between particular sentences and paragraphs in a text
Grade 4:
2. Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize
5. Describe the overall structure...of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text

Grade 5:
--Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text
5. Compare and contrast the overall structure...of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language
3.Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts...and to comprehend more fully when reading
4. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate
 5. Demonstrate understanding of...nuances in word meanings

Grade 3:
b. Recognize and observe differences between the conventions of spoken and written standard English
b. Identify real-life connections between words and their use
c. Distinguish shades of meaning among related words

Grade 4:
b. Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs

Standard 10: Range, Quality, and Complexity of Student Reading K–5
--Qualitative evaluation of the text:  Levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands
--Matching reader to text and task:  Reader variables (such as motivation, knowledge, and experiences) and task variables (such as purpose and the complexity generated by the task assigned and the questions posed)
--Informational text:  Includes...books about history, social studies

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for reading 6-12:
"Through wide and deep reading of literature and literary nonfiction of steadily increasing sophistication, students gain a reservoir of literary and cultural knowledge, references, and images; the ability to evaluate intricate arguments; and the capacity to surmount the challenges posed by complex texts."

Key Ideas and details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text

Craft and Structure
4.Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text...and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone
5.Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole
6.Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text

Grade 6:
2.Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments

Reading Standards for Informational Text 6–12
Grade 6:
2.Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments
3.Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes)
6.Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text

Language Standards 6–12
Grade 6:
a. Vary sentence patterns for meaning, reader/ listener interest, and style
b. Maintain consistency in style and tone
c. Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions)
3. Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening

Range of Text Types for 6–12
"Literary nonfiction:  Includes the subgenres of exposition, argument, and functional text in the form of historical...accounts...written for a broad audience."

Range of Reading and Level of text Complexity
"Reading is critical to building knowledge in history/social...and the capacity to evaluate intricate arguments, synthesize complex information, and follow detailed descriptions of events and concepts...because the vast majority of reading in college and workforce training programs will be sophisticated nonfiction."


Marc Aronson edited Paul Fleischman's multi-star reviewed Eyes Wide Open

We were pleased to learn that Marc Aronson edited and packaged Paul Fleischman's EYES WIDE OPEN for its publisher -- Candlewick -- via Aronson & Glenn LLC. This title is sweeping the stars this fall. Here are just a couple of them:

08/01/2014
Gr 6 Up—Written in a lively style, lavishly illustrated, and timely in its subject matter, this well-researched book is a call to action: now is the time to save our environment. The author describes his technique as getting altitude, or getting above the problem, to see the big picture. Rather than simply offering a list of simple things kids can do to help the environment, he offers more complex solutions for becoming aware of the issues, such as noticing that there is a problem, becoming aware of defense mechanisms preventing people from acting, and learning about systems like capitalism that allow environmental threats to continue. Each chapter, divided into nifty topic-highlighted paragraphs, is filled with historical facts and current events, sidebars, photographs, and definitions of key terms. Backstories, including the oil embargo, the ozone crisis, and the Kyoto Protocol, are presented along with a section on how to weigh information (evaluate the media, follow the money, and check for fallacies). The presentation of facts and the author's positive message are what shine here. An excellent and thought-provoking take on a well-worn subject.—Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community College, Mt. Carmel (starred review)

2014-06-10
With simple, matter-of-fact language, an attractive layout and an abundance of references, this compact guide to addressing climate change is a must-read for millennials and for all who seek solutions to global warming.Fleischman begins with a personal story about noticing dead bees in his driveway and wondering about the cause. He uses this incident to emphasize the point that history—specifically history related to environmental issues—is happening all around us and is undeniably related to the choices made by both individuals and institutions. He clearly states the book’s goal early on: “to give you a foundation under your decisions.” The pages that follow—best read slowly and sequentially—represent a crash course in recent and ancient environmental issues, drawing from history, economics, psychology and sociology to pursue the stated goal. Readers are offered advice on how to analyze and interpret what they hear in person and discover through the media. There is a laudable restraint; even as the text relentlessly shows how human beings have created climate change, sources are also given to read “the most respected” divergent views. Despite its unflinching presentation of facts about myriad environmental concerns, the book manages to end on a note of hope for a new generation of activists. For high schools that assign one book for all students to read and discuss: This is the one. (source notes, bibliography, suggested resources, glossary, acknowledgements, image credits, index, website) (Nonfiction. 14-18) (starred review)


Congratulations, Marc and Paul.

Marc Aronson's ONE DEATH, NINE STORIES reviewed in School Library Journal


Here is the School Library Journal's review of Marc Aronson's ONE DEATH, NINE STORIES (Candlewick), an interesting and unusual collection of stories by some well-known and well-respected writers:


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Joanne Rocklin's FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY reviewed in School Library Journal

In their August review, School Library Journal sees Joanne Rocklin’s FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY (Abrams) lending itself to social studies curricula:
If you would like to have Joanne come to your school to address social studies curricula speaking to your students, just contact Balkin Buddies and we'll be happy to help arrange a visit.

THE MAYFLOWER by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frane Lessac reviewed in School Library Journal

School Library Journal appreciates how well-researched and detailed MarkGreenwood/Frane Lessac's THE MAYFLOWER (Holiday House) is in the August review:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jake Halpern's new book, BAD PAPER, is excerpted as the cover story in the New York Times Magazine

Jake Halpern's new book is a nonfiction title coming out this fall, titled BAD PAPER: CHASING DEBT FROM WALL STREET TO THE UNDERWORLD (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Recently excerpted as the cover story in the 8/17/14 Sunday edition of the New York Times Magazine, BAD PAPER tells the true story of a former banker and a former armed robber who go into business together and purchase $1.5 billion worth of bad debt for pennies on the dollar.  Their aim is to make a fortune in the Great Recession.  All goes well on this unlikely venture until some of the debt is stolen and the former armed robber has to track it down.

You may be able to read the New York Times Magazine story here

Bad Paper is also being featured as the lead segment this week on This American Life. 

The book goes on sale October 14, 2014 but can be pre-ordered now from your local bookstore or Amazon.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Wendell Minor's EDWARD HOPPER PAINTS HIS WORLD is reviewed in the Wall Street Journal


Written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor, EDWARD HOPPER PAINTS HIS WORLD (Holt/Macmillan) was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal:



April Genevieve Tucholke's BETWEEN THE SPARK AND THE BURN gets a thumbs up from Kirkus and School Library Journal


April Genevieve Tucholke's BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA (Penguin) received three starred reviews and was nominated for the YALSA Teen Top 10 in 2013. Kirkus and School Library Journal THE SPARK AND THE BURN a laudable sequel:


After a heady summer full of romance and danger, Violet’s quiet seaside life seems dull, leaving her wishing for the return of the beautiful and dangerous Redding brothers (Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, 2013).

River, with his mysterious glow, was the first to arrive. Then came Neely, the affable brother and self-appointed caretaker of River. The last was Brodie, a brother with a gift for mayhem and a thirst for blood. In this volume, Neely returns at Christmas, and with him comes the promise of adventure. When a late-night radio show begins reporting strange events, Violet, her twin brother, Luke, and their friend, Sunshine, decide to accompany Neely on his quest to find his dangerous siblings. Dead ravens, a mysterious sea king and a deadly pied piper all lie in wait for the quartet. Violet is both intuitive and naïve, capable of profound revelation as well as remarkable stupidity. Her lust for danger as well as her heart divided between good and evil make her a frustrating but compelling heroine. Even when her selfish recklessness threatens the lives of those she loves, she presses forward. The faded opulence of the setting is an ideal backdrop for this lushly atmospheric gothic thriller, which, happily, comes with a satisfying conclusion.

Darkly romantic and evocative. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)


Gr 10 Up—In this conclusion to Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Dial, 2013), a restless Violet is itching to leave the little town of Echo. She longs for news of liar and mind-manipulating River Redding, like a self-aware junkie bent on her next score. Taking travel cues from a late-night radio show pedaling supernatural tales, and joined by a cast of new, old, and always uniquely depicted misfits, Violet follows reports of devil-boy and sea-god sightings, on the chance she'll be reunited with River or put an end to sadistic half-brother Brodie. Her growing attraction to River's superior, self-sacrificing brother, Neely, occasionally and refreshingly tempers her lust for the former. Disturbing yet sensual flashbacks via grandmother Freddie's newly discovered journal further illustrate the intoxicating, perilous path of a Redding boy abusing his power and the dangers of loving one. The lush and polished prose, eerie locales, and pervading sense of dark unease are as engrossing they were in the first installment. Like Violet, readers may miss the gloriously deteriorating Citizen Kane; fortunately Tulchoke's new settings, especially Captain Nemo, prove as distinct and dangerous. While not quite as gripping as the first book, the twists, secrets, and Redding-brand mayhem make this a worthy successor. The open-ended conclusion will leave readers hypothesizing the fates of Citizen Kane's increasingly hodgepodge inhabitants.—Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ